TRAVERSE CITY, MICH – Returning to Michigan after a brief trip to Florida for the rained-out Daytona 500 race, Mitt Romney began his closing arguments Sunday night, telling an audience of Michiganders that he needed their help. He pressed them to help him create a new national movement.
"I need you guys to get out and vote," Romney told an audience of more than 500 in this town on the Michigan's northwestern edge.
"I need your help. I want us to take that first step towards a better tomorrow. I want us to restore the greatness of America," Romney said.
Michigan has assumed an unusual importance in the state primary. Romney, the son of a three-term Michigan governor, and who was born and raised in the state, was presumed to clinch the nomination with ease. But recent polls show Romney in a dead heat with former Sen. Rick Santorum.
Santorum also visited Traverse City, a town of roughly 14,000 today. He drew a smaller crowd, about 250 people, at a campaign stop this afternoon.
Gus Batsikouras, an automobile sales manager, and his wife Sandra Batsikouras attended both candidates’ events. He wanted to test-drive both candidates in person.
Batsikouras, who supported Romney in the 2008 primary here, told NBC News before the Romney event that he hadn’t made a decision.
"They can say they have the greatest product out there, but unless you test-drive it, you'll never know," Batsikouras said. "I want a concrete plan of action for what he's going to do when he gets into office."
Although he voted for Romney four years ago, Batsikouras said he had reservations about the former Massachusetts governor that had little to do with Santorum. He said his main concerns are energy, national defense and the economy.
"We're not sure who is going to show up – which Romney is going to show up," Batsikouras said. "Is he going to hold true to what he's saying? I still need to figure that out."
Following Romney's address, in which the candidate addressed Batsikouras' concerns: Energy (build the Keystone Pipeline System), national defense (increase shipbuilding, add 100,000 more troops) and the economy (a 20-percent tax cut across the board), the couple was impressed but not sold.
"My only knock against him is he wasn't very specific He's still generalizing things," Batsikouras said. "Bottom line is how are they going to execute?" Batsikouras said. "Both [Santorum or Romney] will do a fine job. No doubt about that."